Most categories of webshops contain dozens or even hundreds of products. It can therefore be difficult and time-consuming for visitors to find the products in which they are interested. Now there is something to be said for an extensive shopping session in which you scroll through the many different products. Again, potential customers probably prefer to see products that are relevant to their search.
Relevance of filters
Filters offer visitors the opportunity to reduce the amount of products displayed and make them more relevant. For them, this probably provides a more pleasant user experience, which can then translate into more turnover for webshop owners. After all, a visitor who sees more relevant products on his or her screen will probably have a higher chance of making a purchase. This article offers a good starting point for (fashion) webshops in the field of competitor analysis.
Determining the right filters
There is no perfect set of filters for every webshop. There is also no perfect approach to easily find out what the best set of filters is for your webshop. There are, however, various techniques for investigating which filters are useful for a particular webshop. Simply put, the more of the techniques below you use, the better the image will be and which filters are of added value.
- Competitive Analysis: close competitors often face the same challenges. By looking at what they do, you can learn about what might be good solutions to better serve your visitors. Keep in mind that many of your competitors have arrived at a certain set of filters based on little or no research. So see it mainly as an inspiration.
- User research: For example, you can think of watching heatmaps on session recordings. You can see which filters visitors click on and how well this seems to help them find the desired products. Also user-testing can be an interesting technique to gain more insight into the most suitable filters.
- Data-analyse: in tools such as Google Analytics you can measure with events how often certain filters are used. For each of these filters you can then investigate to what extent they contribute or not to a conversion. Because the filter use can also be segmented in this way (for example per device group), you may be able to gain additional insights.
- A / B test: The above research techniques can help you to formulate substantiated hypotheses about what the right filters are for your webshop. To test these hypotheses, you need to run A/B tests. Make sure that these tests are both valid and reliable, otherwise these tests will of course add little.
Selecting the webshops
In order to ensure a representative sample, an attempt was made to include a wide range of web shops in the research set. However, a specific choice has been made for fashion webshops (instead of also webshops that sell electronics, toys or jewelry, for example). The reason for this is that this ensures that there are many shared filters between the webshops in the set and relatively few industry-specific filters.
Selecting the filters
After the 100 webshops had been determined, the total set of filters that are displayed on these webshops was noted.
In addition to the general filters, a number of other filters are used on the various web shops.
- Specific: some filters are specifically useful for a certain (sub)category. Think of filters such as: cup size, cuff, non-iron, wash, neckline, straps, trouser length and sleeve length.
- Rare: finally there are rare filters. These are filters that are often used at only one or two webshops.
The number of filters that are shown differs considerably per webshop. For example, there is one webshop that shows 13 general filters (De Bijenkorf) while there is also a webshop in the set that shows 0 general filters (Yaya). The average number of common filters shown is 5.49 (with a standard deviation of 2.49).
In addition to the total number of general filters shown, we also looked at how often each of the different filters is shown. This shows that ‘size’ and ‘color’ are the most frequently used filters with 96 percent and 94 percent of the web shops respectively. At a relatively short distance, ‘price’ follows with 83 percent. Then, after a considerable distance, it is the turn of the ‘brand’ filter with 51 percent.
Then, after another considerable distance, the other filters can be found, starting with ‘material’ on 28 percent of the total number of fashion webshops.
As can be seen in the pie chart, more than half of the webshops opt for a vertical display of the filters. In the majority of cases, this concerns a placement on the left side of the products. Nevertheless, 39 percent of the webshops choose to display the filters horizontally. This concerns both webshops with only a handful of filters and webshops with 10+ filters.
The orientation of the filters has only been analyzed for the desktop, by the way. On mobile, this was in almost all cases a vertical orientation.
Some webshops choose to only show their filters after a button has been clicked. In many cases this is a button with the text ‘Filters’ or ‘Filter’.
As can be seen in the pie chart, the vast majority of fashion webshops (87 percent) choose to display the filters directly. For a minority (13 percent) a click is required first.
Incidentally, the initial visibility of the filters was only analyzed for the desktop. In almost all cases, the filters were not initially visible on mobile.
The results show that the vast majority of web shops offer at least two filters, namely ‘size’ and ‘color’. It is suspected that visitors expect these filters on every fashion webshop they visit.
Best practice: offer at least the most popular filters in your industry
The lower percentage of webshops that display the ‘price’ can have several causes. For example, there may be webshops that deliberately omit this filter, in the hope that visitors will come into contact with more expensive items than they were initially looking for. It is also possible that this filter is technically more difficult to implement (because it has no discrete values) and is therefore not used.
Best practice: display a ‘Price’ filter on the category pages (preferably with a range selection and histogram).
The fact that ‘brand’ is used by a large number of webshops, but not by as many as with the above filters, can possibly be explained by the fact that there are also a large number of single brand webshops in the list, which of course have nothing to do with a ‘brand’. have a filter.
It then becomes visible that the other filters are used by a maximum of approximately 1 in 4 webshops. Of course it is too short-sighted to say that more filters are better.
Both a horizontal and a vertical filter orientation are used by sufficient webshops. These will not feel unusual to visitors. Horizontal and vertical filters also have their own advantages and disadvantages. Think of a better overview of the total set of available filters (horizontal) or more space to show multiple filters open at the same time (vertical). Furthermore, both horizontal and vertical orientations are used to show both small and large numbers of filters.
Displaying in a horizontal or vertical orientation therefore seems to be mainly a (well-researched) preference of a certain webshop.
Only a small percentage of the webshops choose to initially hide the filters on the desktop. This can ensure that visitors to these web shops do not realize that the filters are hidden after searching for them in the usual places.
It is therefore certainly worth investigating what happens to the filter usage and conversion percentage if the filters are initially shown directly on larger devices.
Best practice: display the filters on the desktop without requiring any interaction.
Incidentally, the lower percentage of webshops that use such a technique does not mean that this will by definition lead to a lower conversion rate. After all, there is also something to be said for having to open the filters creates more commitment to select options. Or that the initially hidden filters do not divert attention from the products.
Then there are some details that are particularly important on mobile devices. For example, most webshops offer the possibility to select multiple options of a filter at the same time. However, only a very small minority (including Zalando and Protest) make this possible without having to reload the page after each option selected.
Reloading this extra page on a laptop with fiber optic internet is not so disturbing, but on an unstable 4G connection it can possibly lead to enough frustration to leave a webshop. Additional functionalities such as ‘select all options’ and ‘reset’ can also make life considerably easier for mobile users.
Best practice: do not reload the page if multiple options of a particular filter are selected in succession.
There is also a small number of webshops that immediately indicate how many products are available during the filtering. For a particular option and/or how many results are shown based on the current set of filters. Again possibilities that may be less interesting on the desktop, but on mobile could make the difference between a pleasant user experience and an annoying one.
Best practice: display on mobile how many results will be shown.
In addition to the opportunities already mentioned in the article, more ideas have emerged from the research. This is where webshops can use their filters better:
- Test adding filters that you don’t currently offer.
- Removing (or collapsing) existing filters that are rarely used or have a negative impact on conversion.
- Investigate whether the order of the filters is optimal.
- Provide additional help with many filter options (such as ‘more filters’, searching within options, or initially closing some filters).
- Also try to offer ‘rare’ filters on your webshop. In the case of fashion webshops, you can think of emphasis, camouflage, delivery time, eye color, hair color or dress code. At other webshops, these are filters that are not offered by many competitors.
Get started with your filters
The research shows that there is great diversity in the way in which fashion webshops use their filters. It is therefore very important to thoroughly investigate how well the current filter setup on your webshop works for your target group. And which improvements can be made to increase the conversion rate.
Source: Frankwatching by feedproxy.google.com.
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